Making Shared Decisions about Your Nutritional Health

Couple chopping veggies and prepping a salad

6 Sep 2023 | ~4:06 Engagement Time


Roz Kalb , Psychologist

Reviewed By

Kathy Costello , Nurse Practitioner


Healthy nutrition has benefits for MS management as well as overall health. Foods of different kinds are known to affect the inflammatory process in our bodies. They also play a major role in management of other health conditions (called “co-morbidities”) that are known to impact the MS disease course – particularly high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes. While there is no single diet that is known to alter the MS disease process, it’s helpful to work with a registered dietician or nutritionist to optimize your eating plan for overall health, which will, in turn, benefit your MS.

Here are Some Tips for Working Collaboratively With a Nutritional Expert:

  1. Make sure your nutrition provider knows about any health conditions you have in addition to your MS, as well as the medications and supplements you are taking.
  2. Share your personal priorities and goals (e.g., healthier eating, weight loss, diabetes management, meal planning), as well as your challenges around food (e.g., finances, fatigue issues, heat sensitivity in the kitchen, emotional eating, depression, varying tastes and preferences within the family)
  3. Let your provider know about cultural traditions that impact your weekly menus.

Making Shared Decisions With an Occupational Therapist (OT)

For many people, the major barriers to healthy eating are shopping and food preparation. They know what they want to eat for better health, and they know how to prepare it, but fatigue, heat sensitivity, weakness, or other MS symptoms make these activities difficult, if not impossible. An occupational therapist is the member of the MS care team who can help you with those challenges.

Here are some tips for working collaboratively with an occupational therapist:

  1. Describe as clearly as you can the challenges you experience with grocery shopping and meal preparation.
    • Leg or arm weakness
    • Balance problems
    • Inability to manage knives and other cooking utensils
    • Heat sensitivity
    • Difficulty planning meals and making shopping lists
    • Difficulty following recipes
  2. If possible, request a home visit so that the OT can see your kitchen space and food storage areas. If a home visit isn’t possible consider a Zoom meeting or share some photographs by email.
  3. Be open to new ways of doing things: reorganizing your space to conserve energy; using mobility aids, stools, adaptive devices to make food preparation less fatiguing.
  4. If the OT is suggesting strategies that don’t feel comfortable for you or your family, be sure to say so, so that they can suggest other solutions.


Eating a healthy diet involves more than just learning which foods are good for you. The steps to planning and preparing can be challenging as well. We hope these tips will help you participate more comfortably and effectively in the shared decision-making process with your nutrition expert and occupational therapist. Combining their expertise with your personal goals, values, and priorities is the optimal way to help you achieve your nutrition goals.